The Pilkington Jackson Tableux
2 August 2019
Charles d’Orville Pilkington Jackson, a prominent 20th Century British sculptor, was known for his work on some of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks, including The Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle and statue of Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn.
Collaborating with architect Sir Frank Mears, who was engaged to prepare a scheme to save the David Livingstone birthplace at Shuttle Row, Jackson was commissioned for eight polychromatic plaster tableaux to depict David Livingstone’s journey to Africa. Each tableau represents a characteristic of Livingstone, as well as an actual incident in his life. He also went on to work on The World Fountain in the garden of the memorial and later a carved wooden sculpture entitled ‘The Last Journey.’
The tableaux were each individually sponsored by groups and societies, who supported the vision of a dedicated memorial site, responding to appeals for financial support, including The London Missionary Society for whom Livingstone was a Christian missionary (Vision), The National Bible Society of Scotland (Truth), The Congregational Churches of Scotland (Faith), The Geographical Societies (Courage), The Anti-Slavery Society (Mercy), The Daily Telegraph (Renunciation), The Baptist Union of Scotland (Endurance) and the Friends of the (Old) United Free Church (Sacrifice).
The tableaux were built into the original bed recesses of the mill workers and formed a ‘Dark Gallery,’ whereby you could view each tableaux, lit up to dramatic effect. The effect of the lighting arrangements, with just a little colouring, made the Livingstone Dark Gallery a firm favourite with visitors and locals alike.
The tableaux are of great importance to the David Livingstone Trust, and time and effort is being taken to re-imagine their modern interpretation and appreciation of the artistry of construction.
The restoration of the Pilkington Jackson tableaux was realised by Graciela Ainsworth Sculpture Conservation, an award-winning company in the field of conservation and restoration of public and privately-owned sculpture and statuary, museum artefacts, carved stonework and historic building fabric. The company, with over 25 years experience and accredited by ICON, has an expert team of 9 trained conservators, artists and sculptors available for projects throughout the UK all of whom pride themselves in completing high quality conservation and restoration work within budget.
Also see more postings on the David Livingstone Trust Blog.